Book Review: Life Unaware by Cole Gibsen

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Title: Life Unaware
Author: Cole Gibsen
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Genres: General Fiction, Young Adult

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Life UnawareLife Unaware
Cole Gibsen
Entangled Teen, April 2015
ISBN 978-1-62266-396-5
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Regan Flay has been talking about you.

Regan Flay is on the cusp of achieving her control-freak mother’s “plan” for high school success―cheerleading, student council, the Honor Society—until her life gets turned horribly, horribly upside down. Every bitchy text. Every bitchy email. Every lie, manipulation, and insult she’s ever said have been printed out and taped to all the lockers in school.

Now Regan has gone from popular princess to total pariah.

The only person who even speaks to her is her former best friend’s hot but socially miscreant brother, Nolan Letner. Nolan thinks he knows what Regan’s going through, but what nobody knows is that Regan isn’t really Little Miss Perfect. In fact, she’s barely holding it together under her mom’s pressure. But the consequences of Regan’s fall from grace are only just beginning. Once the chain reaction starts, no one will remain untouched…

Especially Regan Flay.

I’ve had the feeling for some time now that bullying is an epidemic in growing mode despite all the efforts that have been made in recent years to draw attention to the problem and effect a change. I suppose all the public notice has made some potential bulliers think twice which is a good thing, of course, but I do wonder if it seems more widespread because it really is or because more people—victims—are willing to come forward. I hope it’s the latter.

To keep any campaign like anti-bullying alive and fresh, we need to look for less obvious hooks and Ms. Gibsen has done just that by focusing on the bully rather than the victim. Understanding even just a little how a person becomes a bully can only help; perhaps such knowledge would help identify a potential bullier before she or he reaches that stage.

It would be easy to demonize Regan for her behavior but that would not make the situation better. Truthfully, you could say she was destined to become this hateful person because she gets so much pressure from her mother to be the top dog in every way. She still has to take responsibility for her own actions, though, and she really doesn’t do that very well, making it hard for me to have a lot of empathy for her at first. She grew on me as the pages turned and I began to see her as a girl who wants to be a better person and who’s willing to finally reach out to the one person who might be able to help her get there (although he does make a monster of a mistake).

There are two essential messages in Life Unaware: (1) bullying in any form is a bad thing that needs to be stopped and (2) redemption is possible. Both are messages we all need to heed, especially middle grade and high school kids who are the most vulnerable to being the bully or the bullied. Cole Gibsen has crafted a story that focuses on both quite nicely.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2015.

About the Author

Cole GibsenCole Gibsen first realized she different when, in high school, she was still reading comic books while the other girls were reading fashion magazines.

It was her love of superheroes that first inspired her to pick up a pen. Her favorite things to write about are ordinary girls who find themselves in extraordinary situations.

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